If you followed all the recent fuss over how Asian parenting styles produce real results, you may think that it appears to contradict the idea that incentive programs can drive success.
In her now famous Wall Street Journal essay, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” Yale Professor Chua describes (somewhat tongue in cheek, some argue) how kids in China –  and Korea and India among others – are driven to do so well in school and outperform kids in the U.S., for example.
For these parents, the reward is a good result, notes Chua:

“Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.”

Blogging for ZDNet, Eileen Yu, who believes Chua’s sentiment was somewhat misunderstood, concludes that this kind of “tough love” method of pushing results would probably not work in every workplace:

“…the primary objective of any workplace [should be] to encourage and help employees realize the fullest of their potential, even if it may sometimes mean pushing them to their limits. “

How a manager accomplishes that for each employee is the tricky part. Success can breed success. Getting to the initial win could mean creating an environment that fosters success and rewards achievement. A simple thanks has been proven to get results according to reports including a survey by the staffing firm Accountemps, which found frequent recognition of accomplishments as the top way to reward employees.
Chua’s essay has sparked an important discussion about how to best facilitate  success, which includes fun take-offs like this from Edie Larson posted on Awl titled, “Why Minnesota Mothers Are Doing Pretty Good.” The parenting style can be summed up in this statement by Larson:

“If a Minnesota child gets a B, well, good for them! Room for improvement.”

In my mind, regardless of whether you’re a room-for-improvement style manager or success- drives-success manager, rewards make a difference. Don’t forget to say thanks, no matter your style.

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